Montgomery McCracken has long had reason to be proud of the strength and sophistication of its appellate litigation practice.
In 1930, one of the Firm’s founding partners, Owen J. Roberts, became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Today, the Firm’s Appellate Litigation Practice Group includes attorneys who have won appeals that they argued and/or briefed in the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeal for the Third Circuit and most other circuits, the Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Courts of Pennsylvania and the appellate courts of New Jersey, Delaware and other states. Many attorneys in the group had judicial clerkships in federal and state courts and have served on the law reviews and/or faculties of America’s top law schools. Montgomery McCracken is one of only three Philadelphia firms with a representative in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, a prestigious fellowship recognizing distinction in appellate practice.
Excellence in appellate advocacy demands a particular combination of skills that even many highly qualified trial lawyers do not always possess. The likelihood of prevailing on appeal increases significantly if a party files briefs that are compellingly reasoned, meticulously researched and well written. Highly qualified appellate advocates also have significant oral argument experience and understand how to provide persuasive answers to the judges’ questions – a skill that differs from being able to deliver an impassioned jury speech. In deciding what approaches and arguments are likely to best serve our clients’ interests on appeal, we are mindful that appellate courts often must contend with a substantial body of existing precedent and that appellate judges are focused on how the desired result will apply in similar cases that may arise in the future.
Lawyers in the Appellate Litigation Practice Group regularly work on appeals for clients that Montgomery McCracken represented in the trial court or before an administrative agency, and often our task in these cases is to convince the appellate court to uphold our client’s victory below. Many other clients retain the Firm for the first time when their cases reach the appellate stage, either to overturn a disappointing result or to defend a successful outcome. In such cases, we pride ourselves in working cooperatively and constructively with the client’s other lawyers in seeking the best possible outcome on appeal. In addition to appellate work, lawyers from the group are available to work on significant briefs for submission to trial courts or administrative agencies.
The Appellate practice offers the following services:
- we research and write appellate briefs, including briefs for amicus curiae, to be filed in federal appellate courts throughout the nation and in state appellate courts;
- we research and write petitions seeking discretionary review from the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey;
- we research and write petitions for mandamus or other extraordinary relief to be filed in appellate courts;
- we present oral argument to appellate courts;
- where the Firm is retained after an appeal has been taken or is contemplated, we work closely with the client’s other lawyers to ensure that the most persuasive arguments are being asserted in the appellate briefs and at oral argument;
- we assist in preparing significant trial court briefs; and
- in all instances, we attempt to provide services that are valuable because they help achieve the desired outcome in a manner that is efficient and fairly priced.
In recent years, lawyers in the Appellate Litigation practice have:
- argued and won a precedent-setting First Amendment case in the Supreme Court of the United States, drafted merits briefs that led to a client’s multi-million dollar victory in that Court and co-authored a petition for writ of certiorari that the Court granted;
- briefed, argued and prevailed in numerous appeals decided in the Third Circuit, in other federal courts of appeal and in state appellate courts, including many appeals of great significance to our clients and to the general public;
- accepted pro bono appellate appointments from the Third Circuit in non-criminal cases and reduced-fee appellate appointments from the Third Circuit to represent defendants in criminal cases; and
- published essays on appellate advocacy, taught appellate advocacy in law schools, and spoken on television and radio about appellate developments of interest to the public.